Health minister confirms plans and calls on neighbouring countries to relax their laws

Luxembourg has led the way in Europe, unveiling plans to become the first country to legalise the use and production of cannabis.

Its health minister has called on other countries on the continent to do the same, admitting that placing strict controls on the drug had proved ineffective.

Etienne Schneider told Politico: “This drug policy we had over the last 50 years did not work.

“Forbidding everything made it just more interesting to young people. I’m hoping all of us will get a more open-minded attitude toward drugs.”

Etienne Schneider, Luxembourg's health minister. Credit: PA
Etienne Schneider, Luxembourg’s health minister. Credit: PA

People who are over the age of 18 will be able to buy the drug to use within two years, while those between 12 and 17 years of age will be OK to possess five grams or less.

Those who break the generous laws though, will be hit with harsher penalties under the proposals. Production and sale of cannabis will be regulated by the state – which means they will tax it, with the money expected to go towards drug education and addiction help.

Hoping to make sure that it doesn’t become a country of drug tourism, the rules will probably include a ban on people who aren’t from the country, and also on home production. The new legislation is expected to be unveiled in more detail soon.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

You might assume the Netherlands would have a more relaxed approach to weed than Luxembourg, but it actually isn’t fully legal there.

The Netherlands has a ‘tolerance policy’, known as ‘gedoogbeleid’, which means they take a common sense approach to use of the drug. It’s technically illegal to possess, use and sell it, but police allow licensed coffee shops to sell cannabis, and also to keep 500g on site at any one time.

The police turn a blind eye to those in possession of 5g or less. However, because it’s still illegal to produce it, coffee shops usually have to do business with criminal gangs to actually source it.

In the UK it has been illegal to possess, grow or sell cannabis since 1928. People caught with it can face up to five years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both. But some police forces have said that they won’t target users who are clearly not intending to sell it, and those in possession of less than an ounce (28g) may just get a warning or fine.

The first country in the world to legalise cannabis was Uruguay in 2013, with Canada following suit in 2018.